Funke Opeke: The 'Crazy' Smart Nigerian Woman Who Just Sold Her Company for N134.70bn to a US Firm

Funke Opeke: The 'Crazy' Smart Nigerian Woman Who Just Sold Her Company for N134.70bn to a US Firm

  • One of the most talked-about names this week in Nigeria's technology space is Funke Opeke, an engineer and Techpreneur
  • Opeke is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of MainOne, one of Africa's most important and pivotal tech companies in the past decade
  • On Tuesday, December 7, 2021, she announced her 12-year-old company will be taken over by a US company for N134.70bn but it wasn't a smooth ride

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In 2008, when Funke Opeke first proposed building an undersea 7,000km-long fiber optic cable network from Portugal to Nigeria, it was an idea that got people laughing, others see it as crazy.

The idea was also described as unachievable, too ambitious, and utterly ridiculous

Opeke was besieged with more questions about what if the cable was stolen, the risks, and funding for the project.

Funke Opeke: The 'crazy' smart Nigerian woman who just sold her company for N131.19bn to a U.S firm
MainOne acquisition is one of the biggest deals in Africa this year. Credit: @mainone @equinix
Source: Facebook

She recounted the experience in an interview of how difficult it was to raise the start-up capital and the initial skepticism.

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But, having worked in the telecommunications industry for almost 20 years, rising to the position of executive director for Verizon, she knew her ideas were realistic.

When others saw the challenges in her ideas, she pictured the digital revolution ahead.

The project was completed in two years(2010) and her firm immediately became a vital aspect of internet service for Nigerian companies, residences, internet service providers, and significantly telecom operators such as MTN and Airtel.

In fact, about 10 other countries in Africa depend on MainOne for internet connection.

The new beginning for MainOne

On Tuesday, December 2021, Opeke foresight was rewarded after Equinix, one of the world’s leading digital infrastructure corporations announced its expansion into Africa through its intended acquisition of MainOne.

The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022. The transaction has an enterprise value of US $320 million(N134.70bn)

Following the announcement of the deal, her decision was once again questioned, with many accusing her of undervaluing a company that was doing so well.

But she believes in an interview, it is the right thing to do.

" We’re very satisfied and pleased with the offer made by Equinix and the value they represented to the shareholders and to the business going forward.
“Equinix will accelerate our long-term vision to grow digital infrastructure investments across Africa. I thank our founding shareholders led by Mr. Fola Adeola, MainStreet Technologies, AFC, PAIDF, FBN, Polaris and AfDB …. With similar values and culture to what we have jointly built in 12 years, Equinix is the preferred partner for our growth journey.”

On his part, Eugene Bergen, President, EMEA, Equinix said:

“Expansion in Africa has long been a strategic priority for us. With MainOne, we have found a company that not only has highly complementary data centre and connectivity assets, but can further accelerate the expansion of our business model and growth…..”

Equinix’s statement also points to the demographics advantage:

“With more than 200 million people, Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and, along with Ghana, has become an established data centre hub."

Overall, the two corporations strongly believe that this acquisition and expansion will enable and accelerate digital transformation throughout Africa.

Shuttlers gets huge backing from foreign investors

Meanwhile had earlier reported that foreign investors continue to invest in Nigerian entrepreneurs with innovative ideas.

Shuttlers, a bus company, is the most recent to get funding, and it will join the ranks of other Nigerian digital start-ups that have scaled up after investment.

TeamApt, one of the successful foreign investor-backed businesses, is now raising its third round of funding in order to boost its market value to over $1 billion.


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